Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces the arrest by members of the Financial Crimes Unit of a senior court clerk for the alleged embezzlement of $14,985 in cash from the Rhode Island Third Division District Court.
On Friday, May 16, 2014, Maria Bennison, age 46, of 400 Woodland Drive Apartment #402, Coventry, Rhode Island was arrested and charged with:
• Embezzlement over $100, and
• Access to a Computer for Fraudulent Purposes.
The investigation by the Financial Crimes Unit began in April after personnel at the court reported the alleged theft of money from court funds. Ms. Bennison's duties included accepting money from Bail Commissioners who collect bail money and court warrant fines from defendants who are arraigned at police departments after court is closed. Included in the funds collected is a $125 warrant fee. Ms. Bennison would receive the money from the Bail Commissioners and would log the defendants' court fines into the court's computer system. It is alleged that on a regular basis between September 2013 and March 2014, Ms. Bennison purposely withheld the $125 warrant fee, failed to the log the fee into the system and converted the money to her own use.
Ms. Bennison was arraigned on the above charges in Kent County Superior Court before the Honorable Associate Justice Brian P. Stern. She was released on $10,000 personal recognizance.
The penalty for a person convicted of Embezzlement is imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years or a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or both.